Restoration of $40 Million to Missouri Campuses Hailed as 'Life Raft'

Thursday, February 9, 2012

One day after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he was restoring $40 million to cuts he had recommended to state funding for public colleges and universities, the state's commissioner of higher education said he expects campus officials to greet the news "like a drowning person reaches for a life raft."

Whether the money will be enough to reduce looming tuition increases, though, remains to be seen.

Nixon made his announcement shortly after Attorney General Chris Koster said Tuesday that the state should receive $140 million in a massive mortgage settlement.

Nixon, a Democrat up for re-election this fall, has been under fire for weeks over his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year; it called for cutting $106 million from higher education spending. The governor said he had little choice because the state's finances will take a hit with the end of federal stimulus spending.

Whether the money will be enough to ease expected increases in tuition is another matter. A statement released today by University of Missouri spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said:

“We are pleased that Gov. Nixon has reduced the budget cut for higher education from $106 million to $66 million and we look forward to meeting with Gov. Nixon later this week to discuss it. We are still determining what this change means to our tuition recommendation to the Board of Curators. We all are interested in making higher education more affordable and accessible.” 

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